By the time album opener and absolute belter ‘Masterpiece’ comes to an end, it becomes very clear that The Rubens have emerged inspired from all the twists and turns thrown at them in 2020 and injected a new energy into this incredible record. 0202, a forward-thinking album for a backward year, sees The Rubens creating a sound that effortlessly dances across genres – alt-rock, rnb, pop and hip hop all collide into something uniquely their own.
The band unexpectedly found themselves self-producing what would become their most “pop” sounding album so far, recording everything together in their friend’s Camden-based studio, a converted WWII communications building, simply known as The Bunker, with bass player Will Zeglis taking on the role of engineer. Together they built each track up, starting with drummer Scott Baldwin’s beats, piecing the whole thing together part by part. When they felt like they’d taken a song as far as they could on their own, they would send it on to one of three producers – Kon Kersting, Rob Amoruso or Eric J – depending on what the song needed and who they thought would be best suited to the track, to add extra production and mix the track.
While the recording process might have been a love-in, the album itself isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. With song titles like ‘Muddy Evil Pain’, tunes about retrospectively realising you lost The One (‘Masterpiece’) and lyrics like, “All this heavy weather in my chest again, will I ever see a change?” (‘Heavy Weather’) there’s a melancholic undercurrent to 0202. “It’s a little darker than the last album,” Elliott agrees. “Thematically darker and sonically too. Even though it’s pretty and hi-fi, there’s a lot of darkness there.” If you saw the title of album closer ‘Party’ and were expecting a good time, summer jam, think again. “With anything we do, we can’t help but throw a bit of pessimism in there,” smiles Sam. “We can’t write a song that’s just purely happy and uplifting. I guess it’s just a realistic view, y’know?”
It’s this clash of light and dark that makes 0202, the band’s fourth studio album, such a compelling listen. After four albums and almost ten years together, The Rubens show no sign of slowing down. By being true to their creative instincts, the band have delivered an album brimming with big ideas, clever production and bucket loads of excitement. Or as Elliott simply puts it, “I think it’s our best yet.”
0202 follows third album LO LA RU, which featured hits ‘Never Ever (feat Sarah)’ (Double Platinum), ‘Million Man’ (Certified Gold), ‘God Forgot’ (Certified Gold) and lead to sold out shows and a 42-date Arena tour supporting megastar P!NK. Their second album Hoopssaw the band sell out headline shows at Hordern Pavilion and Margaret Court Arena and included hits ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Cut Me Loose’ and of course the 4 x Platinum the hit title track, which topped the 2015 triple j Hottest 100, while their debut self-titled LP was home to ‘My Gun’ (Certified Platinum), ‘Lay It Down’ (Certified Gold), ‘The Best We Got’ and more fan-favourites.
The Rubens are currently half way through their regional NSW album launch shows, and will kick off their official 0202 album tour from April – July, playing metro cities as well as regional venues across their biggest headline tour to date.